Professional athletes rarely fraternize with the enemy while they’re in season. Once the season ends, though, most rivalries are put aside.
Believe or not, many athletes train with players from other teams during the offseason, as everyone has the same goal of improving their conditioning and skill. Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel is no different: In the past, the former Boston University star had trained with players like Keith Yandle, Jimmy and Kevin Hayes and Noah Hanifin — who played at BU’s rival, Boston College — at a facility in Foxboro, Mass.
But this year, Eichel switched things up, working out just down the road from where he played college puck and training with two of the Bruins’ best players: Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.
“I got to skate with Marchand and Bergeron at the Warrior Practice Facility, where the Bruins practice,” Eichel told ESPN.com’s Emily Kaplan in a recent interview. “(After) having to chase Marchand every day, hopefully I’ll do better in the D-zone and do better on that plus-minus.”
The 20-year-old had a solid 2016-17 campaign, posting 57 points (24 goals, 33 assists) in 61 games despite missing time due to injury. But two years removed from being the second overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Eichel still is seeking his breakout season. That’s why the North Chelmsford, Mass., native changed up his routine this offseason, hiring a one-on-one trainer while shortening his commute from his offseason residence in Boston.
“Just wanted something new,” Eichel said of his new summer plan. “I thought it would be a little less stressful. I live in the city, so to drive to Foxboro every day, it’s not the shortest drive. There’s a lot of traffic, it’s a bit of haul. You spend time in the car, you spend time in traffic. It definitely takes a toll on you mentally.”
Eichel has scored six points in seven career games against Boston, so Bruins fans probably are hoping he doesn’t get too comfortable around these parts.
Thumbnail photo via Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports Images